Rainbow rays

I’m being given the gift of many rainbows this winter, but they’re not in the sky. On my mountain, low cloud rising and and low sun setting makes for some spectacular combinations.

This striped beauty lasted only seconds before the last fine drifts of misty cloud dissipated. Being stuck too much at my desk at present, I was extremely lucky to have looked up at just the right time.

I’m not sure whom I’m addressing, but I have to say ‘Thanks!’ for such gifts.


Although it’s winter, when sleet or snow would have been more normal, we’ve had a surprising number of summery-type storms, where small hail falls. Not for long, but often.

The horses don’t like it, but it doesn’t do any actual damage, so I just enjoy the visual effect while it lasts.

My naturalised snowflake bulbs – which I called ‘snowdrops’ as a child – seem to be made for such a white dotted setting.

They don’t often get the chance for a real snow backdrop.


These two Laughing Kookaburras decided to share my occasional bird feeder.

Not that they were interested in birdseed, but it made a good vantage point for wormwatching.

They weren’t into team diving, however, and they wouldn’t have shared the worm.

Probably siblings from one of the large kookaburra family tribes on my place, they’d be used to helping feed younger brothers or sisters, so maybe they were hunting to take back to the nest.

Sky lords

No, that’s not fly dirt on the picture — it’s the pair of wedge-tailed eagles who lord it over the upper skies here, and have done for the 30 years I’ve been here. They usually have a third in tow, their young one.

They cruise so high up it’s amazing they can spot anything down here on the ground. Their eyesight is equal to ours when using binoculars with 20 times magnification powers.

No other bird can make it up there, although the magpies will chase eagles a long way above the treeline.

I zoom in to check, but oh yes, it’s the wedgies.

Recycled rainbows

Not being very technologically savvy, occasionally I ruin a CD, the non-rewritable sort, by accidentally copying the wrong thing.

Rather than waste the disk, I collect them, in twos.

I tie each pair together, back-to back with cotton.Then I hang them from the verandah rafters, theoretically for the amusement of my grandchildren. They spin and catch the light beautifully.

But the other day one caught a rainbow. It was late afternoon, the day had been damp and misty, but the clouds were lifting at last.

First the disk itself trapped the colours as it spun. I was entranced.

But, minutes later, it was reflecting a round rainbow on to the scribbly gum furrows of the verandah post. It looked like a projected colour film of hieroglyphics.

Talk about the light fantastic!

A protected joey

Walking through my forest, I often come across small groups of Eastern Red-necked Wallabies. On this occasion there were three, who propped and watched me.

Sometimes they take flight, but mostly not, because this being a wildlife refuge, they are used to not needing to fear me or what I allow to happen here. No guns or dogs or roads for careless cars.

I was especially taken with the innocence of this joey, who didn’t move at all, just watched, big eyed, its little black paws relaxed against its pale furry tummy. We looked at each other for some time. It didn’t mind the camera. It’s been born here and will grow up here, as protected as I can manage.

Echidna slaughter

It is somehow worse to see an echidna roadkill than a wallaby. Not only because I see them less often, but because they are so unmistakably not dreaming but dead.

I see wallabies dozing in all sorts of odd poses, but I have never seen a live echidna on its back. The spines are there to protect it from predators; it rolls into a tight spiky ball when threatened.

Yet here it is, the soft underside helplessly exposed, the strong-clawed paws that would have dug it to safety outflung, stiff and useless.

Neither its spikes nor its claws were any defence against the uncaring, unstopping driver of the vehicle that bowled it for six – and out. Echidna-, not manslaughter, hit and run, and yet no one will be punished for this.

Melbourne: cold but exciting

Back from my week in Melbourne, struck anew by how much colder the more southern latitude makes it, by how culturally alive that city is, and how terrific their metro transport system – even I worked it out eventually.

I wore long johns under my jeans every day, fell in love with the Victoria Markets and the State Library, and was interviewed by terrific women on commmunity radio: Bridget Bosun on JOYFM, the gay & lesbian station; Gab Reade on 3CR, the left-wing social justice and environmental one that felt like home, and 3MDR, where my friend Ann Creber interviews really interesting people in extraordinarily diverse fields. All of them had read my book, and that’s more unusual than you’d think.

No camera, so no pics for you, but can report that the Eltham New Voices Festival went well, in wonderful venues like the faux-ancient Montsalvat and a mudbrick church hall, as did the Belgrave library talk, with lots of keen environmental interest and questions.

Now I am going into retreat to finish the text and illustrations of my next book, Mountain Tails, before the deadline of the end of August. Nearly there.

Turn the Tide, Kevin—peak carbon by 2010

Like the children of Rozelle Public School in Sydney, I’m backing this initiative: will you? Be part of creating a national visual petition to Kevin Rudd.

Gather around you whomever you know with a care for the future — whether from your family, play group, work mates, tennis club, or… ?

It doesn’t matter how few or how many. Ask for immediate and real action on climate change from our leaders.

Let Prime Minister Rudd hear the collective voices from our communities — loud and clear — with pictures.

Turn The Tide is aiming for over 1,000 images from communities all over Australia before the end of September.

Visit the Turn the Tide blogspot to see how others are doing it, and to find out how you can do your bit.

Let’s get everybody doing it! 

Cloud on a string

Very early one morning I happened to catch this connection between nature and man.

The heavy cloud was just cruising, waiting for the sun to warm it up, when a cheeky jet plane shot right through the middle of it and up into the real daylight.

There it shone, a silver streak that made my cloud look like it was wired for sound and sporting a long antenna.

Or else being towed by the jet – a cloud on a string.

Duck duo

The Wood Ducks, or Maned Wood Ducks as they are often called, mostly hang out at the big dam, as the magpies shoo them off the small dam below the house.

But the other day the maggie sentinels must have been on a break, for I spotted the handsome couple pecking about in the grass on the bank.

By the time I got there with the camera, they’d taken flight. I waited as they wheeled about and headed down to land on the water.

I snapped this shot of the female as she hit the water, her mane feathers fluffed and her wings not yet folded back down.

Because her mane is brown like her head it’s usually not as noticeable as her partner’s black one.

Overall, she has the soft patterning while he gets the smart tuxedo look.

Winter morning

Mist rises from the mountains opposite as morning light grows stronger. It reveals light snow has fallen overnight up there at 5000 feet.

That’s in the wilderness area, so only the wallabies will be marking the snowfall with their prints.

But the sun is rising too, and the mist begins to glow, tinged with rose as the long low rays penetrate it.

The snow will melt during the day; the brief glimpses I get are rewards for the cold morning, and a reminder that I’m not in Sydney!